October 29, 2008
In an effort to create some sort of offense after an otherwise dismal 11-shot performance last night in San Jose, Penguins coach Michel Therrien is once again juggling the lines. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be broken up for the time being. Ruslan Fedotenko will now be moved up to the first line along with Pascal Dupuis and Malkin will center a line with Petr Sykora and Matt Cooke on the wings. Jordan Staal, who is still struggling to score and hasn't potted a goal since March, has been moved down to the third line with Miroslav Satan and Tyler Kennedy.
Many were concerned about the Pittsburgh defense after Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar went down, but the blue line along with Marc-Andre Fleury has been good. The team is 6th in the league with 21 goals allowed, averaging 2.10 a game. The offense is what's concerning Penguin-nation. Through last night's games, Pittsburgh is 20th in the NHL with 24 goals for with Satan leading the way with four goals.
What's been worrying me is the fact that Sidney Crosby is playing unselfishly way too much. He may lead the Penguins in shots with 36, but there are far too many times when Crosby is flying down the wing he pulls up too look for a pass or does his spin-o-rama-backhanded pass across the defensive zone that goes to no one. With the team struggling offensively like it is, it's time for Crosby and Malkin to play hockey like they were playing in the NBA, selfishly and all about themselves. Pittsburgh isn't getting 200 points between guys like Dupuis, Fedotenko, and Max Talbot, it's getting them from it's two offensive leaders in Crosby and Malkin. Michel Therrien can do his usual juggling act with the lines, but eventually he's going to have to let them be to create some sort of chemistry between the players. I agree with breaking up Crosby and Malkin, otherwise the Penguins might turn into the Ottawa Senators as a one line time. Staal could be the key in all of this as a winger to help either the first or second line, but by looking at the lines for tomorrow night's game in Phoenix, it seems as if the coaching staff wants to mold him more as a defensive-center than a productive one.